Ukrainian authorities deployed police and armored vehicles in a town that will host some 70 Ukrainians and foreigners evacuated from China over the epidemic of the new coronavirus, due to protests by residents who fear the spread of the disease.
Hundreds of police, some with suits and riot gear and at least two tanks, were deployed in the small town of Novi Sanjari (Poltava region, downtown), Maksim Mijailik, a local resident, told AFP.
From early on, a group of inhabitants blocked the road to prevent the arrival of evacuees, after which there were clashes with the police trying to clear the road.
A plane that transported 45 Ukrainians and 27 citizens of other countries from the Chinese city of Wuhan, epicenter of the epidemic, made a brief stopover in Kiev before landing in Jarkiv (east), this Thursday, according to AFP journalists. Foreigners evacuated by Kiev were mostly Latin Americans. Specifically, eight Argentines, two Costa Ricans, five Ecuadorians, an Israeli, a Montenegrin, a Panamanian, four Salvadorans and five Dominicans. A Kazakh also descended during the journey to stay in Almaty.
The passengers were then taken by buses to the small town of Novi Sanjari to undergo a quarantine for 14 days in a military hospital. But in the morning, a group of residents had blocked the road to prevent their arrival. The regional police reported the first clashes and at least two armored vehicles were deployed at the scene.
First composed of a few dozen people, the crowd grew to gather hundreds of people throughout the day. Under police protection, the buses that transported the evacuees, some with broken windows, finally managed to enter the clinic.
Passengers, including at least one family with children, had masks on their faces. Many waved their hands or waved small Ukrainian flags while others hid behind the curtains.
President Volodimir Zelenski tried to appease fears, ensuring on Facebook that the evacuees were going to be "totally isolated."
"The attempts to block roads and hospitals, not to allow Ukrainians to return to Ukraine, do not show the positive side of our character," he said.
So far no cases of the new coronavirus have been registered in Ukraine. The Minister of Health assured that there was no patient on board the plane.
Many Ukrainians on social networks condemned the protests and said they were ashamed of them.
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